Artist Lecturer in Trumpet
Neal Berntsen joined the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra trumpet section in March 1997, having been appointed at the invitation of Music Director Lorin Maazel in 1996. He is a native of Tacoma, Washington. He began his musical studies at age five playing the violin under the tutelage of his mother. By age eight he advanced to the trumpet and ultimately received a B.M. from the University of Puget Sound and a M.M. from Northwestern University. A former member of the Chicago Lyric Opera Orchestra and the Grant Park Symphony Orchestra, Neal has also performed as principal trumpet for the Ravinia Festival Orchestra and the Bamberg Sinfoniker in Germany. Other orchestral performances have included the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the Boston Symphony Orchestra.
Active as a chamber musician, Neal is a member of the Pittsburgh Symphony Brass whose recordings: “BACH: THE ART OF FUGUE” (1998),“A CHRISTMAS CONCERT” (2000), “THE SPIRIT OF CHRISTMAS” (2003) and “A SONG OF CHRISTMAS” (2008) were described as “...Awhirl with color and rhythmic vitality - quite irresistible on every count.” by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Mr. Berntsen is also a founding member of the award-winning Asbury Brass Quintet of Chicago, about which Fanfare magazine stated, “Not only expert but musical...undeniable virtuosity.” The Asbury Brass Quintet recording with Adolph Herseth, “INTRODUCING THE ASBURY BRASS QUINTET” has become legendary. In June 2005 Mr. Berntsen toured Japan with members of the Chicago Symphony brass section with the Chicago Brass Soloists. As a soloist he recently performed the Arutunian Concerto for Trumpet and Orchestra and the Proto, Carmen Fantasy with The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. Other solo engagements have included the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra and Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 2 at the Sedona Chamber Music Festival in Arizona. Mr. Berntsen’s performance of Copeland’s “Quiet City” was called a highlight of the 2005 season by the Pittsburgh Post Gazette. Mr. Berntsen’s solo recording TRUMPET VOICES was released in Nov. 2005. Andrew Druckenbrod, music critic of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette called the recording, “Electric”. While Mark Kanny of the Pittsburgh Tribune Review stated, “Trumpet Voices is an indispensable recording for anyone who appreciates great trumpet playing.”
Neal Berntsen was a finalist and prizewinner in multiple International Trumpet Competitions. His wide ranging dicography includes: The Orchestras of Pittsburgh and Chicago, Manheim Steamroller, The American Girl Doll Christmas album and Michael Jackson.
As an educator, Mr. Berntsen is Chair of the Brass Division and Artist Lecturer at Carnegie Mellon University. He has previously served on the faculty of Duquesne University and Valparaiso University in Indiana. He has been published in The Instrumentalist magazine, and the International Trumpet Guild Journal. Mr. Berntsen has presented master classes and recitals around the world - most recently in China.
Mr. Berntsen is an active studio musician and was featured on a national series of commercials during the broadcast of the Olympic games in Atlanta. His performance on “America” sung by Diana Ross opened the women’s final tennis match of the 2001 US OPEN in Flushing Meadows New York.
Neal Berntsen has studied with Adolph Herseth, Vincent Cichowicz and Manuel Laureano. He resides in Mt. Lebanon, Pennsyvlania with his wife Karen and three children Molly, Jacob, and Charlie.